ESPN’s Marc Stein reported this morning that the Miami Heat may be one of the main teams worrying the Utah Jazz about potentially landing Gordon Hayward this summer.
About two months ago, a less than credible report arose claiming that there were “whispers” that Utah Jazz free agent Gordon Hayward could end up joining the Miami Heat this summer. While Miami could certainly be an intriguing destination for him and I was never disputing the fact that they may be one of his suitors, at the time I was quick to dismiss the rumor as unfounded and the so-called “whispers” are largely unsubstantiated.
However, it would appear that those whispers may be growing a little louder.
Per a report that surfaced this morning from ESPN’s Marc Stein, apparently the Miami Heat have emerged as a team that’s worrying the Utah Jazz to the same degree that the Boston Celtics are in terms of vying for his services:
Boston and Utah have long been the supposed front runners for netting Hayward next year, with teams like the Heat, Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs making up that next tier of potential suitors below them. Nevertheless, this recent development would make it seem that Miami is indeed among the front runners.
That fact is a bit surprising given Hayward’s clear intent to go where he has the best chance of winning and looking at current talent and the fact that Miami failed to qualify for the postseason this past year, one would think that both Utah and Boston would give him a better opportunity to flourish.
However, the Heat did finish the year as one of the hottest teams in the league, have some intriguing pieces such as Hassan Whiteside, James Johnson, Goran Dragic and Tyler Johnson, a Coach of the Year candidate in Erik Spoelstra and one of the greatest executives in the league in Pat Riley who is reputed for building successful programs. With all of that going for them, plus an alluring big market scene, who’s to dispute that Hayward wouldn’t be interested?
Nevertheless, despite the recent revamp in these reports, I have a very hard time believing that Hayward will spurn the Jazz for the Heat. Unless there’s something in the works where he knows the Heat have plans to bring an additional big name free agent on board, simply adding Hayward to their current roster wouldn’t be enough to turn them into a championship contender.
Not to mention, Rudy Gobert easily proved this last year to be superior to Hassan Whiteside and especially given Hayward’s good relationship with the Stifle Tower, I don’t see him trading the former for the latter. Last of all, Hayward has touched many times on how great Utah has been for his family and raising his daughters. Sure, they could find great communities no matter where he goes, but that’s quite a drastic change of scenery for a young family.
At the end of the day, this report could stem from nothing more than the fact that Miami is looking to make a harder push for Hayward or that he’ll look into them more than many supposed. And while there truly is a reasonable chance that Gordon will leave the Jazz in free agency, I have a hard time believing he’d choose Miami over the favorable situation in Boston and the connection with his former coach, or even over his current Jazz squad, if he truly wants to win.
But then again, maybe the wizard Pat Riley knows something that we don’t. It’s almost foreign for the Jazz to have such a highly sought-after free agent and the courting that Hayward will experience this offseason as well as the rumors associated with it are certain to put Jazz fans on pins and needles until he finally makes his final decision.
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I know that I, for one, am securely fastened to the edge of my seat.
With Miami apparently emerging as a true contestant in the Hayward sweepstakes, this free agency period is slowly but surely getting more and more interesting all the time…